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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2006): Welfare State - Overseas

S. Hausermann

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.16, 2006, p.5-21

Article examines how new social needs and demands translate into policy change in Christian Democratic welfare states. New social demands result from the shift away from industrial society, which was based on standard industrial employment, stable family structures and the social insurance of male breadwinners. Demands for new social policies aimed at increasing childcare provision and protecting parents and those in atypical employment are now ranking high on the reform agendas of these welfare states. These new social policies are supported by new alliances among policy actors. New coalitions emerged in Germany and Switzerland between social democratic, liberal and even conservative political parties on issues such as the splitting of pension-contribution benefits for husbands and wives, birth benefits, pension contribution credits for carers and the flexibilisation of parental leave organisation. Cross class alliances between the Left and employers occurred on the splitting of pension contributions, better pension protection against discontinuous employment biographies and financial incentives to combine parental leave with part-time employment.

C. Bambra

Social Policy and Society, vol.5, 2006, p.53-62

This paper is based on the principle that welfare states should be judged in terms of what they do rather than how much they spend or what services they provide. It examines health status (measured in terms of infant mortality rates) as a welfare state outcome between 1980 and 1998. It shows that health status varies across welfare states and that there is a significant difference in terms of health between liberal, conservative and social democratic welfare regimes.

O. Avdeyeva

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.15, 2006, p.37-49

This article compares 11 Western European countries with respect to public policies that promote the employment of mothers: maternity and parental leave, childcare provision and family-related benefits. The study reveals limited trends towards the harmonisation of national social policies. Such resilience in national welfare regimes can be attributed to institutional path dependence, on the one hand, and to minimal EU efforts to harmonise social policies on the other.

L. Humpage

Critical Social Policy, issue 86, 2006, p.220-242

The New Zealand government has borrowed the discourse of social exclusion/inclusion developed in Europe and Britain and inappropriately attempted to apply it to improving the lot of the Maori people. This has resulted in the rights and needs of Maori being increasingly seen in terms of equal opportunities rather than  in terms of the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi signed by Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown in 1840. It is doubtful that social cohesion and solidarity can be achieved while the government fails to address the political and cultural disruption caused by colonisation and the unequal power relations that have stemmed from it.

W. van Oorschot

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.16, 2006, p.23-42

Present-day welfare states treat different groups of needy people differently. For some groups social protection is more easily accessible, more generous and longer lasting than for other groups. This article aims to contribute to an understanding of the popular cultural context of welfare rationing by examining European public perceptions of the relative deservingness of needy groups using data from the 1999/2000 European Values Study survey. It is found that Europeans in all countries regard elderly people as most deserving, closely followed by sick and disabled people. Unemployed people are seen as less deserving still, and immigrants as least deserving of all.

W. Lutz and V. Skirbekk

Population and Development Review, vol.31, 2005, p.699-740

The impact of population ageing and low fertility rates on economic competitiveness, pensions and health systems are causing concern in many industrialised countries. Policies explicitly aimed at addressing the fertility-depressing effects of increases in the mean age at childbearing (the tempo effect) may help to raise birth rates. Reforms in the school system may affect the timing of childbearing by lowering the age at completion of education. A more efficient school system, which provides the same qualifications at a younger school-leaving age, is potentially capable of increasing period fertility.

P. Starke

Social Policy and Administration, vol.40, 2006, p.104-120

There is general agreement that welfare state cutbacks are highly unpopular with citizens and therefore politically difficult. Most authors also agree that socio-economic problems, particularly domestic problems, trigger cuts. The extent of retrenchment possible depends on the specific institutional configuration of the political system and the path dependence of existing welfare state structures. In contrast, the relevance of political parties and ideas to retrenchment is still being debated.

M. Titterton

Social Policy and Administration, vol.40, 2006, p.88-103

Article discusses the principal challenges for public health and social welfare in Russia. While these issues include a range of blood-borne and respiratory illnesses and addictions in settings from streets to prisons, the example of HIV/AIDS is given particular attention. Author concludes that Russia has developed a range of initiatives designed to tackle particular problems, but little in the way of a strategic response.

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